Dilation and Curettage Explained: What to Expect and Tips for Recovery (2024)

Dilation and Curettage Explained: What to Expect and Tips for Recovery (1)

Medically Reviewed By Valinda Riggins Nwadike, MD, MPH

— Written By Stella Miranda

Updated on March 28, 2022

Dilation and curettage (D and C) is common procedure that removes tissue from the uterus. D and C surgery is an outpatient procedure. People who undergo it are usually able to go home the same day. D and C is one of the most frequently Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source performed procedures in the United States. Doctors may use D and C to diagnose or treat a condition. Someone who experiences a miscarriage may undergo a D and C procedure.

The procedure’s name refers to the dilation of the lower part of the uterus (also known as the cervix) with instruments or medications. This allows doctors to remove tissue using an instrument called a curette.

This article will provide an overview of D and C, including the reasons doctors perform it. It will also discuss what to expect during a D and C procedure and tips for recovery.

Sex and gender terms

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “women” and “female” to refer to sex assigned at birth in order to accurately reflect language used in source materials.

Reasons for a D and C

Your medical team might recommend a D and C procedure for either diagnosis or treatment purposes. You may also choose to have D and C. The following sections provide more detail about the primary reasons you may undergo D and C.

Following miscarriage

Pregnancy losses after 10 weeks typically require D and C, since some tissue may remain in the uterus after a miscarriage.

Some people may choose to miscarry without medical assistance once the pregnancy has been lost, while others choose to undergo D and C. This is a personal decision that you can make with guidance from your OB-GYN.

Doctors may recommend D and C in certain situations, including:

  • miscarriage after 10–12 weeks
  • pregnancy complications in the birthing parent
  • medical conditions that may require emergency care

Pregnancy termination

For people who choose to end a pregnancy in the first trimester, one procedural option is a D and C. The choice to terminate a pregnancy is highly personal. Your

OB-GYN can talk you through available options and risk factors. They can also address any concerns you may have.

For diagnosis

A D and C procedure allows doctors to remove a sample of tissue from the uterus. They can examine these cells under a microscope to diagnose or evaluate conditions, including Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source:

  • uterine cancer
  • endometrial cancer
  • causes of irregular bleeding, such as fibroids, polyps, or hyperplasia
  • complicated early pregnancy

During D and C, doctors may also perform a hysteroscopy. This procedure uses a lighted camera on a thin, flexible tube to examine the inside of the uterus.

For treatment

Doctors may need to perform D and C to remove tissue from the uterus as a treatment for certain conditions, such as:

  • chronic or excessive bleeding that does not improve with other medical treatment
  • tissue that remains in the uterus after miscarriage, abortion, or childbirth
  • a molar pregnancy, when a tumor forms instead of a placenta

How do I prepare for a D and C?

Dilation and Curettage Explained: What to Expect and Tips for Recovery (3)

A D and C is an outpatient procedure. Your doctor will provide specific guidelines according to your medical history and the reasons for undergoing surgery.

Steps to prepare ahead of your D and C procedure include:

  • Talk with your doctor about previous allergic reactions to medications, including bleeding disorders.
  • Tell your doctor about any medications you take, particularly insulin and blood thinners.
  • Plan to take 2–3 days off from work or school.
  • Arrange for a ride home after the procedure.
  • Follow your care team’s instructions for not eating or drinking ahead of the surgery.

What should I expect during a D and C procedure?

D and C is a short, outpatient procedure. It may take place in your

OB-GYN’s office, in a hospital, or in an outpatient clinic.

You will receive an anesthetic to help you relax and, in some cases, put you to sleep during the procedure. Your anesthesiologist will discuss your options and can address any questions or concerns you may have.

During the procedure:

  • A nurse will monitor your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen levels.
  • The doctor will ask you to lie back on an examination table, similar to having a gynecological exam. You will rest your feet in stirrups and a sheet will cover your knees.
  • Your doctor will insert a speculum to dilate the cervix.
  • Your doctor will then insert a spoon-shaped instrument called a curette to remove tissue from the uterus.

In some cases, if the curette does not loosen the tissue, the doctor may use a suction device.This process is called suction curettage.

After the procedure is complete, your care team will move you to a recovery area. Once you are fully awake, you will receive instructions for recovery after you leave.

Is a D and C painful?

During a D and C, you will be under local or regional anesthesia. You may experience mild cramping for several days following the procedure. Your doctor can recommend over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications.

How long does it take?

The procedure takes approximately 15–30 minutes, though exceptional cases may take longer. After the surgery, you will wait in the recovery room for a few hours.

Will it affect my menstrual cycle?

If you menstruate, you should expect to resume your menstrual cycle within 2–6 weeks of your D and C procedure.

When to call your doctor or nurse

The overall risk of complications from D and C is low. However, as with any surgical procedure, complications can occur.

Contact your care team right away if you experience symptoms, including:

  • a fever of 101ºF (38ºC) or higher
  • heavy vagin*l bleeding that soaks through two or more sanitary pads in 2 hours
  • pain or cramping that does not go away with OTC pain relievers
  • abdominal swelling
  • foul smelling vagin*l discharge

D and C recovery at home

Once you are home, you may experience mild spotting or bleeding. Because you may still feel drowsy from the anesthesia, it is important to have someone with you for the first 24 hours of recovery.

Your doctor will talk through steps you should follow after a D and C procedure, including:

  • avoiding the use of tampons
  • avoiding vagin*l intercourse
  • taking OTC pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve), to relieve cramping
  • taking showers instead of baths
  • avoiding swimming

Most people resume their daily activities within 2 days after D and C.

Potential risks of D and C

Serious complications after a D and C procedure are rare Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source, but may include:

  • urinary tract infection
  • anesthesia-related issues
  • infection in the uterus
  • uterine perforation
  • persistent bleeding
  • Asherman’s syndrome, a scarring of the cervix

Contact your

OB-GYN right away if you notice signs of infection, including pain, fever, or unusual vagin*l discharge.

Frequently asked questions

Other questions people often ask about D and C include:

Is D and C an abortion?

D and C is one procedural method of terminating an early pregnancy. Depending on the laws where you live, this may be an abortion option before 14 weeks of pregnancy.

Can having a D and C affect your chances of getting pregnant later in life?

One 2007 study Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source found an increased risk of postpartum bleeding in people who underwent a previous D and C procedure. However, there is no evidence that a D and C procedure affects long-term fertility. Talk with your

OB-GYN if you have concerns about your fertility following D and C.

What is the cost of D and C?

The cost of a D and C surgery will depend on your unique medical situation, the type of insurance coverage you have, and the site of service.


D and C is a common outpatient surgery in which doctors dilate the cervix and use an instrument called a curette to remove tissue from the uterus.

Doctors use D and C to diagnose or treat certain conditions of the uterus. D and C is also one procedural option for the early termination of a pregnancy.

Complications from D and C are rare but can occur. Talk with your doctor about any risk factors, how to prepare, and what to expect during recovery from a D and C procedure.

Dilation and Curettage Explained: What to Expect and Tips for Recovery (2024)


Dilation and Curettage Explained: What to Expect and Tips for Recovery? ›

It is normal to have some spotting or light vagin*l bleeding for a few days after the procedure. You may experience cramping for the first few days after a D&C. You may be instructed not to douche, use tampons, or have intercourse for two to three days after a D&C, or for a period of time recommended by your doctor.

How long do you have to rest after dilation and curettage? ›

Once you go home. After you have a D&C you should rest when you get home. You can go back to normal activities after 1 to 2 days (although the effects of the anaesthetic may make you feel tired). It is normal to experience some cramping or mild abdominal discomfort after a D&C.

What are the aftercare instructions for a D&C? ›

How can you care for yourself at home?
  1. Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover.
  2. Most women are able to return to work the day after the procedure.
  3. You may have some light vagin*l bleeding. Use sanitary pads until you stop bleeding. ...
  4. Ask your doctor when it is okay for you to have sex.

What does D&C recovery look like? ›

For a dilation and curettage (D&C), your doctor uses a curved tool, called a curette, to gently scrape tissue from your uterus. After these procedures, you are likely to have a backache or cramps similar to menstrual cramps. Expect to pass small clots of blood from your vagin* for the first few days.

How to sleep after D and C? ›

For some people, right after back sleeping, side sleeping is the second most comfortable position. For people recovering from abdominal surgery, it's a great option since it doesn't put additional pressure on your incision, and makes getting in and out of bed easier.

What are the do's and don'ts after a curettage? ›

You may be instructed not to douche, use tampons, or have intercourse for two to three days after a D&C, or for a period of time recommended by your doctor. You may also have other restrictions on your activity, including no strenuous activity or heavy lifting.

What activities should you avoid after a D&C? ›

Two weeks after your procedure, or a few days after bleeding has stopped:
  • Shower instead of taking a bath.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse.
  • Use sanitary pads instead of tampons.
  • Avoid going swimming.
  • If you experience any signs of infection (such as fever, pain or discharge), see your doctor immediately.

Do you need bed rest after a D&C? ›

Recovery After a D&C

If you had general anesthesia, you may feel groggy for a while and have some brief nausea and vomiting. You can return to regular activities within one or two days. In the meantime, ask your doctor about any needed restrictions. You may also have mild cramping and light spotting for a few days.

How to take care of yourself after D&C? ›

It's normal to experience mild cramping and light bleeding (or spotting) for a few days after a D&C. Use pads, not tampons, for the bleeding. Don't begin having sex again until your healthcare provider tells you it's safe to do so (usually about one week after the procedure).

Is walking good after D&C? ›

Of course, this doesn't mean you should do any strenuous activities or exercises. Simply try to get up and walk in the first couple of days after the procedure. In general, it should be safe to get back to your regular daily activities about two days after undergoing D&C.

What not to eat after D&C? ›

You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast and yogurt. Drink plenty of fluids and be sure to keep your bladder empty.

How uncomfortable is a D&C? ›

Under general anesthesia, a person cannot feel anything at all. People who are worried about pain may want to choose sedation or anesthesia. Others prefer to feel in control or may want to avoid any side effects from these drugs. The procedure only takes a few minutes.

What is not normal after a D&C? ›

If you have a fever, pain that is getting worse instead of better, or foul-smelling vagin*l discharge after a D&C, contact your doctor's office.

How long does it take to heal internally after a D&C? ›

The recovery period typically lasts 1-2 weeks, although some women may take longer to recover fully. During the first few days after the procedure, it is common to experience mild to moderate cramping, spotting, and light bleeding. Pain relief medications may be prescribed to manage any discomfort.

Does it hurt to pee after a D&C? ›

Things to watch and call for:

If your abdominal pain starts getting worse. If you develop nausea or vomiting, or if you have trouble having a bowel movement. If you have trouble urinating, burning when you urinate, or feel the need to urinate very often.

What is the best pain relief after a D&C? ›

Pain Medication

You may take up to 1,000 mg of acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 6 hours and/or up to 800 mg of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) every 8 hours to help ease cramps (you may take both if needed). Do not take aspirin because it increases bleeding.

How many days off work after D&C? ›

You may continue to have light vagin*l bleeding for several weeks after the procedure. You will probably be able to go back to most of your normal activities in 2 to 4 days, but each person recovers at a different pace. It is normal to have painful feelings of loss and grief after a miscarriage.

How long after D&C can you be intimate? ›

Don't begin having sex again until your healthcare provider tells you it's safe to do so (usually about one week after the procedure).

Is it normal to feel weak and tired after D&C? ›

After surgery, you may feel weak and tired from the anesthesia you received during the procedure. It may take a couple of days for the tired feeling to go away. You should continue to take deep breaths and cough every 3-4 hours while awake for the first 24 hours after surgery.

How long to wait to exercise after D&C? ›

unless directed by your physician. Follow these instructions when you are at home: Do not do heavy activity for 24 hours. Slowly increase your activity as you are able.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Eusebia Nader

Last Updated:

Views: 5385

Rating: 5 / 5 (80 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Eusebia Nader

Birthday: 1994-11-11

Address: Apt. 721 977 Ebert Meadows, Jereville, GA 73618-6603

Phone: +2316203969400

Job: International Farming Consultant

Hobby: Reading, Photography, Shooting, Singing, Magic, Kayaking, Mushroom hunting

Introduction: My name is Eusebia Nader, I am a encouraging, brainy, lively, nice, famous, healthy, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.